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Watch out AAPL, MSFT: GOOG are taking over

Apple are grass and Google are the lawnmower. By Mack Diesel.

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The tech world has been buzzing about Apple rejecting Google Voice from their iPhone App Store. This is nothing new if you have been paying attention within the confines of the Apple ecosystem; AAPL love to control their hardware and software ecosystem.

Apple apologists have been blaming AT&T for this decision, which is quite frankly a bunch of crap. Why? Look no further than the presence of Skype in the App Store. The same apologists argue that Google Voice interferes with the iPhone business model while ignoring that Skype also 'circumvents' the business model by using their own service via VoIP. Apple could have told AT&T to go to hell just as they did with the record labels. But that's not the point.

The fact that Apple have complete control over what gets selected or rejected makes this episode entirely their own doing. It's the same behaviour we see over and over again with the App Store. It's also the same reason why OS X is still on crappy Apple hardware, why Apple crush their own ISVs, and you're forced to download an additional 80+ MB for an incremental iTunes update solely to lock out Pre customers.

But there is a much deeper reason for this and it has nothing to do with the App Store or the iPhone.

I really believe that the true underlying reason Apple rejected Google Voice is because they are acknowledging that Google are a very real threat to their entire product ecosystem.

Microsoft won the desktop battle and Google won the search battle - we already know that. Microsoft being Microsoft wanted to dominate search as well. They've failed miserably. And now with Bing creeping onto Google's turf, Google decided it was time to conqueror Microsoft's own turf - the desktop. As an indirect consequence, however, Apple are also threatened. Here's why.

The concept of the 'desktop' as we know it is a sorely outdated model from a time where having an independent PC meant freedom to use programs and control data in an environment dominated by mainframes. The laptops became portable versions of desktops although the users are still stuck in the same paradigm. The OS runs the show; you have to maintain the OS and then tell it to install certain programs. From there you have to tell the programs how you want your end result to look.

And then along came netbooks. Initially they ran Linux where the emphasis wasn't so much on interacting with the OS itself but for getting online and working from there. But Microsoft being Microsoft again pushed their 8-year-old OS onto netbooks (since their bloated Vista can't handle it) and thereby left users stuck with the same paradigm again - malware threats and all.

Google are saying 'forget all of that'.

You buy whatever your computer you like, the OS is just there in the background to launch you straight to your stuff in the cloud. Don't worry about the OS - we have a crack team of coders (FOSS) to keep you safe. And guess what? You don't even really need a computer anymore because we'll supply you with a phone number on our own service so that you can not only chat with your family and friends, but you can also use your phone to access all of your stuff saved in the cloud! You don't need Microsoft, Apple, your Blackberry, or even your traditional telcos! OK, so maybe you'll need your Blackberry - but here's our program!

Apple have been making huge miscalculations with their hardware/software ecosystem. They will be forever relegated to a niche if they don't wake up. They can't rely on their iPods - they're the Sony Walkmans of our time. And just like the death of the cassette tape, the iPod too will end up next to the Walkman in the Smithsonian. If Apple are serious about making a dent, open up OS X to all hardware. Get into the netbook market pronto and don't miss the boat like they did with CD burning. Let the people decide what they want on their iPhones. If they're even smart enough, they'll get real cozy with Google. Because if they're going to cry like a little boy in the sandbox who had his toys taken away, Apple are grass and Google are the fucking lawnmower.

Microsoft don't get it. They're stuck in their old ways and - like the MAFIAA - will probably put up a fight as they further cement their place on the geological time scale. The single user paradigm dating back to the days of IBM compatibles have been propped up for far too long by their stranglehold on the industry.

Say what you want about Google's practices, their security (lack thereof) or whatnot, but they have bet big on where computing is going to evolve. This is why the likes of Facebook are trying to get a piece of the action through their own walled garden.

Then again their storage will be (as if it isn't already) a massive gold mine for the NSA.

So what do you think?

Mack Diesel is a technology writer who uses both Mac OS X, Ubuntu, and open source in general.

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